The Birth of Matthew Ali Zavieh
November 28, 2011
On November 28, 2011, I was 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant with Matthew. I awoke in the morning and remembered that this was the exact same day of gestation on which Sara was born. It occurred to me that maybe he would make his appearance that day as well. I didn’t really think he would, but it crossed my mind.
The day began like any other typical Monday during school. My mom was visiting, so she and I and the girls got ready for school. We dropped Sara off, and at school lots of our friends made comments to me like “you’re still here?” and “I was so sure he was going to come this weekend.” I believe I commented to someone that he was just so cozy in there, he might never come out.
In this vein, my friend Kylie DeGiorgio was organizing other friends to cook meals for us upon Matthew’s arrival. My friend Anita Larsson sent Kylie a response at 1:20 p.m. that day in which she said, “with bubba clearly being perfectly happy where he is (as witnessed this morning!). . .”
While Sara was at school, Mom and Sydney and I ran several errands, including grocery shopping at Woolworth’s. Woolworth’s didn’t have the dried beans we were hoping to find, so we considered going to Organic Network in Brookvale after picking up Sara, but ultimately we decided against it since we were all hungry.(Thank goodness for that decision!) We picked Sara up at 12:30 and headed home.
We arrived home a bit after 1:00. As I pulled into the parking garage, I thought I really wasn’t feeling so great. It was a warm day, and I was tired from running errands and hungry. I didn’t think much of my feeling icky in terms of Matthew – I just didn’t feel great.
We came in and Mom made lunch for the girls. I said I really wasn’t all that hungry and I just sat down at the table for a few minutes. Sara and Sydney had just had their dance recital over the weekend, and the recital had prompted a new wave of Sara missing her close friends Izzy Kuntz and Addison Portteus in Livermore. So, we had scheduled a video chat amongst all of the girls and moms (Alli Kuntz and Michelle Portteus) at 2:15 our time. I felt like I needed to pull myself off the chair and get set up for that, as it was so important to Sara and I was of course excited too!
In the hour leading up to 2:15, I felt my back tighten up three times. It just didn’t feel very good, and I realized it could be the prelude to labor. It was irregular and not too intense. Nevertheless, I texted my midwife Robyn at 2:09 pm saying, “Just started having some cramping in my back. Sporadic – three in the last hour or less. That’s how Sara started. Making my mom a little nervous. ;I won’t be surprised if it turns into something more regular. They make me stop and breathe through them. Can’t move while they’re happening. Keep you posted.” She responded, “That sounds wonderful! Keep it up!”
I also texted Tommy that it seemed to be starting. He called and asked if he should come home. I was afraid of waiting too long to tell him to come, so I said yes, come home. He asked if he needed to drop everything and come immediately or if he could finish something that would take him only a few minutes. I said finish what he was doing and then come.
At 2:15 we started our scheduled video chat. It was so fantastic to see our friends! Sara wanted to show Izzy and Addison her room, so we moved the computer down the hall to her room. Shortly after sitting down on Sara’s bed, Michelle asked if I was feeling okay. “I think I’m starting labor” was my response. We talked for a few minutes, and unbeknownst to me, Michelle timed the contractions (based on observing me). She told me they were only 4 minutes apart. I was shocked that they were so close. I went to the living room to get the power cord for the computer, and when I returned Michelle asked if I’d had a contraction while I was gone. I had. She said she knew based on the timing. That’s when I realized that I was definitely in labor and it was moving fast. It had reached the point where I needed Mom to press on my back during a contraction.
I realized how awful I was beginning to feel and that I needed to use the bathroom. I said, “I may not be back” to my friends and went to the bathroom. I texted Robyn again. It was 2:56 p.m. Our conversation went like this:
Me: “Coming frequent and strong. 4 mins or less apart. Tommy is on his way home.”
Robyn: “Do u want me to come yet?”
Me: “I don’t think I’m overreacting. It’s changing pretty fast. I’d say come within an hour. Get Tayla [her daughter who gets home from school around 3 p.m.] or whatever you need to do and then come.”
Robyn: “Ok, no worries.”
I got on the toilet and hollered for my mom. I knew I was progressing quickly when I realized that I didn’t care at all that she saw me like that! Some things from Bradley class stick with you, and the loss of modesty stage of labor is one of them. I asked her to bring me some water, which she quickly did. By the time she returned, I was throwing up in the waste basket.
Mom was visibly nervous when she saw me. I told her, “Don’t worry. Robyn and Tommy will be here before the baby is.” (Ha!)
I reached for my phone to text Robyn again. When I did, I knocked the glass of water onto the tile floor and it shattered. I hollered for my mom, but she didn’t seem to hear me. I banged on the wall as hard as I could. The apartment is very small, but I was afraid she had moved away to give me privacy and was not going to hear me! Thankfully she did hear me, and she came to clean up the glass. I texted Robyn. “Come now.” She said, “Ok.” What she didn’t tell me was that she had ignored my earlier suggestion to do other things before coming and was already on her way. (Thank goodness!) I also texted Tommy that I was getting in the shower and wouldn’t be able to answer the phone or texts.
Throughout this time and on until the birth, Sara was checking on me (and delivering updates to our friends on the video chat). She was incredibly supportive and excited.
At this point I had two conscious thoughts. One was “this is why women have drugs,” a thought I have been aware of having in each of my labors at the point of transition. I am fanatically committed to having a drug-free birth, so having that thought highlights to me that I have reached transition. The other thought was that I had better hurry up and get my music playing. I never got to play my prepared labor playlist with Sara, because there was never time. With Sydney I had the same CDs I’d prepared for Sara’s birth (since I’d never used them!) but the CD player at the birth center couldn’t play them. I wasn’t going to miss out on using the playlist I’d made for Matthew, too!
I got the playlist started on my phone and got in the shower. “Searching My Soul” by Vonda Shepherd (from Ally McBeal) played and I had a major contraction. When the contraction was over, I called for Sara. I wanted to reassure her that I was fine, which I absolutely was between contractions. She either didn’t hear me or was too busy chatting with her friends to come, and very soon I was having another contraction.
On this second contraction in the shower, I thought, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to poop in the shower.” Next thought was, “oh well.” A couple drops of blood hit the floor, and the pressure was overwhelming. I reached down and felt Matthew’s head. I hollered for my mom again, this time screaming as loud as I could in case she didn’t hear me the first time, as I didn’t think there was time to repeat myself. “I’M HAVING THE BABY!!!!”
My mom ran in, surprisingly calm under the circumstances. She asked what to do, and I told her to grab a towel. She got one of the girl’s bath towels. She opened the shower door and turned off the water. I told her to turn it back on, as the warm water felt so good. She reached down with the towel and out came Matthew – all of him. There was no slow crowning of the head followed by multiple contractions pushing him out slowly. He just came out all at once.
I asked Mom if the cord was wrapped around his neck, and it was not. I had also noticed that there was no meconium in the fluids that had accompanied him, so I felt quite comfortable that we were all ok. Mom wrapped Matthew in the towel and handed him to me. She took the shower head down to spray in the shower but not on him. I held him against my chest and sat down against the wall. ;We all stared at each other in disbelief. He was here! It was 3:15 pm.
Once the commotion had settled, my music sounded terribly loud. I was thrilled to hear that Bon Jovi’s “Raise Your Hands” (our wedding recessional) was playing. YES! My boy was born to Bon Jovi! Mom asked me how to turn it off. I said, “Give it to Sydney.” Mom did, and Syd turned it off. My techie 2-year-old then brought the camera and snapped a few pictures of me in the shower with Matthew.
I called Robyn to let her know Matthew had already come, and she was outside the front door. While I waited for my mom to go let her in, I called Tommy to tell him Matthew had arrived. It went to voice mail, so I texted him simply, “He’s here!” (I later learned his phone had died and he didn’t see my text, so it wasn’t until he arrived home that he found out how quickly Matthew had come.)
My mom let Robyn in, and she rushed into the bathroom to find Matthew and me doing fine, just waiting in the shower for the placenta to come. It had been a particularly bloody birth (nothing painful or bad, just lots of blood) and she helped clean me up. I opted to stay put in the shower until the placenta came, and it did about 20 minutes later.
Tommy arrived shortly after Robyn. There was nothing he could have done to get there any faster, but I was very sad that he had missed the moment of birth. Once the placenta had come, he and Sydney together cut the cord. Sara had wanted to but was somewhat uncomfortable with the amount of blood brought about by the birth. She chose to stay nearby, observing, but not directly involved.
One of the first things that struck us about Matthew was his full head of hair. He had more at birth than many children have at a couple of years old! He also had his eyes wide open, and I couldn’t stop staring at him.
The most memorable part of the birth for Sydney was Matthew pooping in the shower. ;He pooped a number of times in his first hour of life, and it made quite the impression on her! Sara was struck by the blood and my pains in my belly. For a few days I experienced significant after pains in my back, and each time she saw me wince she would ask, “Are you having another baby?”
Sometime in all of the post-birth happenings, our long-distance participants finished video chatting with Sara, but I caught up with them a few days later and got to properly introduce Matthew. I love that so many people that I love so much got to participate in his birth, no matter how unplanned and unexpected!