Tuesday, August 23, 2011


At 3:30am, Dr. Wai, our ObGyn, arrived and checked my cervix.  Finally, I was at 10 centimeters!  The baby was still at 0 station.  Dr. Wai offered to break my water, and we all decided this is probably a good idea, to help the baby come out, at this point.  After he ruptured the membrane, I continued laboring on the side of the bed.  It was actually somewhat comforting and a relief to feel a warm gush of water, each time a contraction came.  Dr. Wai let me know that, since I was fully dilated, I could begin pushing, whenever I was ready.  I'd heard of so many women feeling the urge to push, but I wasn't experiencing any urge to push yet.  However, I thought perhaps that was what needed to happen next, so I agreed to start trying.

At 3:45am, when I started to try to push, it was a very confusing time.  I tried a few different positions, but anything leaning forward at all or putting pressure on my pubic bone was excruciatingly painful!  Dr. Wai and the nurse could tell I was fighting it, and they let me know I could stop temporarily, if I needed to, and just let the contractions bring the baby down a bit.  That sounded good to me, because I still wasn't feeling an urge, and nothing was working well for me.

As the clock approached 4am, Dr. Wai suggested that trying pushing again, in a semi-reclined position, sitting in the bed, with the stirrups out for support only.  I agreed and asked for further help to know what to do, in order to push efficiently.  He also asked me if I wanted a local anesthesia for my perineum, to help with any pain of stretching or tearing.  This was the one thing I hadn't actually researched; I didn't even realize I'd be given that option.  So, I looked over at Katie, and she indicated somehow that I didn't need it, so I promptly declined.  (Later, Katie shared that even though it may take some pain away, the numbing of the anesthesia had the potential to make it more likely that I would tear.)  A contraction came, and I was throwing my head back to deal with the pain.  "No, bring your head down and push!" I was told.  Next contraction came, and I was blowing all the air out.  "No, hold your breath in and push!" I was told.  (Thinking back on these things, it is kind of comical to me...but I honestly didn't realize what I was and wasn't doing at the time.)  It was very different from when I had an epidural with Emmi, because I was still trying to manage dealing with all the pain of the contraction and also know how to push at the same time.  Finally, after struggling through a couple of pushes, I realized what I was supposed to be doing!  The next contraction came, I started pushing effectively, and by the grace of God Almighty, we were making great progress with each push and each contraction!  Within a few minutes, Dr. Wai was showing my husband Dave that some of our baby's head had already became visible, with the first good, productive pushing contraction!

Photo taken by Katie Perez.
After about pushing through about only four good contractions, I was birthing our baby boy!  His head finally popped out with a strong push, and Dr. Wai helped adjust the cord from around his neck.  

Photo taken by Katie Perez.

 I was very grateful also that Dr. Wai told me when to stop pushing for a moment and helped to ease our son's head out gently, so that I did not tear at all.  (I was told later that I just got a few "skid" marks down there.)  Then, my next push brought out his amazing little body!  

Photo taken by Katie Perez.

At 4:13am, I reached down and helped deliver my beautiful baby boy, pulling our son's precious little being up onto my chest.  It was miraculous, and a great relief.  And, he was perfectly healthy!  All glory to my great Shepherd and good Father in Heaven!   

Photo taken by Katie Perez.
Photo taken by Katie Perez.
Photo taken by Katie Perez.

Katie wrote that God's presence was incredibly powerful.  I just remember holding my son's hand.
Photo taken by Katie Perez.
Photo taken by Katie Perez.
Photo taken by Katie Perez.
Within five minutes, I began having contractions to deliver the placenta.  These startled me a bit, with more intense pain, as I was holding onto my son for the first time.  

Photo taken by Katie Perez.
We were both so relieved that labor and birth were over, though, we just relaxed.

Photo taken by Katie Perez.
Checking our little man's heartbeat.
Photo taken by Katie Perez.

The placenta then detached from my body and came out easily on its own...

The sac in which our baby lived
for over ten months: The Placenta.
Photo taken by Katie Perez.
Dr. Wai showing us the placenta
and examining its composition.
Photo taken by Katie Perez.

The umbilical cord was cut, just after it had stopped pulsating. 
Our baby boy weighed in at 7 pounds and 3.5 ounces.

Photo taken by Katie Perez.
Photo taken by Katie Perez.

Soon after our son was born, he latched onto my breast beautifully, with little assistance, around 4:30am, to eat his first meal on his birthday.  I was so impressed with how strong of an eater he was!  He would have no problem nursing, and I was delighted to find that it didn't hurt or burn for me, this time around.  Praise God!  

Our son's first meal, in Mama's arms.
Photo taken by Katie Perez.
The first few days of nursing were a little uncomfortable, but that soon went away.  (With our first, I was in burning pain for the first 3 1/2 weeks of nursing our daughter!)  The uncomfortable uterine cramping intensified when he would nurse, but Katie reassured me this was beneficial for my uterus to clamp down and return to normal in the long run.  By 5:30am, we were saying goodbye's and thank you's to our amazing friend and doula, Katie Perez of Triumphant Birth Services.  We all had to smile, when we realized that our baby boy had made his entrance into the world just 47 minutes before I would have needed to be at the hospital for an induction at 5am.

Photo taken by Katie Perez.
With our daughter, we had already chosen her name months before she was born.  However, with our son, we decided to do things a little differently.  We had a short list of favorites, and desired to name our baby boy with the most fitting name, as a blessing, after meeting him and spending some time together.  So, Dave and I spent a couple hours with our new baby boy, and we finally decided upon his name: Pierson Everett Matthews.  Pierson is a form of Peter, meaning "Rock," and Everett means "Brave."  We originally put another middle name with Pierson and another first name with Everett, as two separate choices, but we decided to combine the two names, especially for him.  Even now, nine months later, it's amazing to see how very fitting this name is for our brave little rock...

Pierson's first bath.
Our little trooper...
Pierson being scrubbed down by Daddy.

Pierson getting dressed on his birthday.
Happy Daddy.

I remember thinking how beautiful, tiny, and perfect he was, and what a gift I had been given!  I was incredibly relieved and grateful he was finally here.  Tears of joy were on Dave's face, once again, and it was very special to see him help care for his son, by giving Pierson his first bath and dressing him in a little outfit we brought for him.  I was also thankful that the very hard labor only lasted a little over four hours and the pushing around 15 minutes or less, as opposed to what I had experienced with my first labor and birth.  And, apparently, it was indeed a very good idea that Dr. Wai went ahead and broke my water at 10 centimeters dilated.

Pierson Everett Matthews.
Photo taken by Dave Matthews.

So, yes, Katie's dream was prophetic!  And, I didn't realize just how prophetic is was, until I later read the following, in the birth notes she made for me...

November 16th, 2010 at 9pm- I had a dream the night before that Amber had a beautiful birth, and that we were at the hospital for 4 hours. I deliberately leave out the 4 hours part when I tell her, because I just didn’t want her to get frustrated if it ended up being bad pizza. But I definitely feel God, and we are optimistic and standing in faith!

Praise God for hearing our prayers and for encouraging Katie with this dream, so that she could be strong and encourage me, as my doula and friend, to wait for and press through the birth I wanted to have, with our son, who was born naturally, two weeks and two days past his "due date."  I should tell you all that my dear husband Dave was an amazing support and strength, as well, and I could not have done this without him (literally, ha!).  Finally, I wrote to my dear friend and mentor, Lyn Mitchell, that day, and sent her the following message:

We welcomed to our world little Pierson Everett Matthews at 4:13pm this morning, November 18, 2010.  He is amazingly perfect and precious and so beautiful...what a gift he is from God!   Weighing 7 lbs., 3.5 oz. and 19.5 in. long, he currently has sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, and is nursing very well.  Glory to Father God!

First family photo with Pierson, on November 18th.
Photo taken my my aunt, Sara Hendrix.
Our family had such a sweet reunion that morning, as Aunt Sara brought Miss Emmi up to the hospital to finally meet her new baby brother.  With Aunt Sara's help, Emmi brought Pierson a little snuggly bear, as a gift, of which she later appropriated back to herself that day.  We also had a pretty, new dolly for Emmi, from her baby brother, to let her know how much he was going to love her.  We stayed in the hospital that night, and went home the next morning, Friday, November 19th.  And, so our life began with a family of four, and we looked forward to a very blessed Thanksgiving Holiday around the corner...

Me and my son...
Pierson's cute, flaky feet, from being in the amniotic fluid so long...
Pierson's first smile, the day after he was born.
Pierson's homecoming, on November 19th.

Monday, August 22, 2011


On Tuesday evening (November 16th, which was the day I was originally supposed to be induced), I was having regular contractions for a few hours, and I asked Katie to "pray, pray, pray these continue."  They were getting stronger, and I SO wanted our baby boy to come naturally, having been given some extra days to let my body do its thing, in God's perfect timing.  At 9:10pm, Katie wrote and told me she had been thinking all day about that dream she had the night before, wherein I had a great birth.  "I feel God.  I'm praying really hard!  In the name of Jesus, bring this child forth!!" Katie texted.  I'm so thankful to have had this kind of support from her, not only as my doula, but as my spiritual sister in Christ.  Much of the details, in this second part of our son's birth story, I must thank Katie for recording for me, as I was a wee bit busy at the time.

Well, fortunately, I got about four hours of sleep that night, and stronger contractions woke me up early.  Around 5:20am, I was kind of nauseous, and couldn't move during contractions.  This birth must be happening sometime very soon, I thought.  Things were starting to get intense, and I wasn't sure whether to eat something or just drink fluids.  But, Katie assured me that if I was hungry, to go ahead and eat something, because "we didn't know how long this could take" and that I would need the energy.  Katie wrote at 5:25am to ask if I've had any "bloody show" yet, and if I was ready for her to come.  I told her to stay with her family a bit longer, and that I didn't have any "bloody show" yet.   Within two minutes after sending that message, I was writing her back that the "bloody show" just appeared!  This was less than ten minutes after she had originally asked, interestingly enough, and was a very good sign!

As was the case in my labor with Emmi, all of my contractions were very frontal, pulling down towards my pubic bone area.  At this point, labor was not painful, just getting more intense; I just focused on breathing through the contractions.  Around 6:45am, I did my make-up and brushed and flossed my teeth, thinking we could be headed to the hospital at any time, so I wanted to be ready.  Well, when I flossed, all my gums starting bleeding!  I'd never experienced this before, but Katie reassured me it was just the flood of pregnancy hormones affecting my body.  The time was nearing 7am, and the contractions were mellowing out a bit.  They became quite tolerable, after I had emptied my bowels.  This made sense to me, because there was less pressure and more room for contracting movement.  (I will definitely drink as much water as possible next time I'm nearing a delivery, and I'll eat much more lightly at that time, as these things helped labor at a certain point to be smoother.) 

Around 7am, I got ready and headed to see our chiropractor, Dr. Jim Bob Haggerton, of Lifetime Family Wellness Center.  One of my hips had been bothering me for the past couple of days, as the baby was trying to move lower, so I needed an adjustment to try and help balance everything out.  All the while, I was optimistic, believing God for a great labor and delivery.  The adjustment was just what I needed, and my hip started feeling much better after I left Lifetime Family Wellness.  

By 9am, contractions had stalled again and became irregular.  Thankfully, Dave was home, and I somehow immediately feel asleep in our front office (which is odd for me, because I am rarely able to fall asleep for a nap during the day.)  The contractions subsided enough for me to sleep at least an hour and a half, and then a big contraction woke me up.  As I noted the pattern of contractions, they had really spread out again.  Katie suspected a position problem with the baby, and she encouraged me to try some different techniques and positions to help our baby boy move downward in the correct position for an efficient labor and birth.  She suggested that the baby's head may be "Asynclitic" (meaning it's cocked at an angle.) 
I read up on this link she sent, from Spinning Babies, and it made perfect sense to me that this is what could be happening.  So, soon afterwards, Dave helped me do an "Inversion," as show on the following link Katie also sent:
Amazingly enough, I felt the baby come forward and then settle back down again; however, I'm not sure it worked the first time.  So, we did it again.  Per Katie's e-mail, I also got on my hands and knees a lot, trying to help open up my pelvis, and later did some "curb walking" (walk next to the curb with one foot stepping up and one foot on the street), which for me personally didn't help so much.  We also tried some "sifting," which seemed to be helpful.  We learned about this technique from Jamie Hinton of Ordinary Miracle Childbirth Services, who taught the natural birth classes we attended, and then Katie reminded me about it.  For the next few hours, into the afternoon, contractions went from regular for a little bit to very irregular, with some being strong and others weak.

Around 4pm (we are still on Wednesday, the 17th), Dave and I left Emmi at the house with Aunt Sara, who was still staying with us to help, and took a good walk around the neighborhood, to try and stimulate some labor contractions and balance things out.  On this walk, I also spoke on the phone with our ObGyn's nurse, desiring to cancel our appointment to come in at 10pm to start Cervidil, for an induction.  Since I'd lost my mucous plug and have had some stronger contractions, I really believed labor was beginning to start on it's own and that I would be in very soon, without needing an induction.  Dr. Wai and his staff were still concerned, and his nurse said this would be fine, but that if I hadn't already come to the hospital before morning, to come at 5am, and they would consider rupturing the membranes / breaking my water.  I had to keep reminding myself that this was my birth and my baby, and I didn't need to beg for permission to wait a little longer; at the same time, I wanted to respect and prayerfully consider the medical advice of my doctor and his team, since I was over two weeks past the projected due date.

Aunt Sara continued to watch and care for Miss Emmi, as Dave took me on one of the last dates we might have for a while.  We went out to Grapevine to eat at the California Pizza Kitchen, and this is where I remember contractions finally starting to become regular again, about seven minutes apart, and definitely increasing in intensity.  Towards the end of dinner, around 6:30pm, I visited the restroom and had to stop walking on the way there and on the way back, from the intensity of the contractions.  Dave and I discussed what to do, and we decided to go walk around at Central Market in Southlake, since Aunt Sara was putting Emmi to sleep.  While walking around in the store, contractions continued to build in severity, and a little after 8pm, we headed home.

Around 8:45pm, I called Katie and told her that the contractions were becoming very intense, and she could tell I was becoming fearful.  Katie talked to me about not allowing fear to come in to my labor, and she assured me that my body was doing a great work, not to fight it, but to surrender to it.  I wasn't sure she needed to come over just yet, but it would be soon... 

This was it...  I was confident that true labor had finally begun, and it had to have a light at the end of the tunnel.  So, I went to take another shower, before having to go to the hospital.  A few minutes before 10pm, I called Katie and let her know I was ready for her to come over.  At 10:35pm, Katie arrived at our home.  I was having good, strong contractions, but the pattern was a bit inconsistent again.  Katie was suspicious that the baby still hasn't found an ideal birthing position, which has prolonged this early stage of labor.  I labored at home for almost another hour, and after discussing some things with Katie and some strong admonishment from my Aunt Sara, we headed out to Baylor Grapevine Hospital around 11:30pm.

Just after arriving at Baylor Grapevine,
in between contractions...

Right about midnight (Thursday, the 18th), we arrived at the hospital, and this is when I remember contractions really starting to become "someone-hold-me-and-let-me-squeeze-your-hand" painful.  I was so thankful we'd decided to come, at that point, and very grateful I wasn't in a vehicle with this kind of painful labor.  Everything seemed nice and quiet in the Labor & Delivery area, as we proceeded to check in.  Unfortunately, my own vocal agony later changes that atmosphere. 

Well, the nursing staff was very kind and efficient, and I was finally checked.  At the time, I was a bit discouraged and somewhat fearful to learn I was
only at 3-4 centimeters dilated, because I was already in a lot of pain during contractions.  It reminded me of what happened during our daughter Emmi's birth in 2009, which was a total of 24 hours.  So, I hoped and prayed I didn't have many more hours of this to endure.  Also, I was told the baby's head was at -1 station.  Katie assured me that all this didn't mean too much, and that we were going to get the baby situated in a better position.

While the nurses were still assessing me and our baby boy, they noticed that he had three heart decels on the monitor.  So, they then wanted me to get into the bed, on my side, with some oxygen and fluids, to help our baby boy inside.  He responded perfectly to this assistance, and after about 30-40 minutes, the nurses were able to take me off of everything and let me out of bed.

It's about 1am, at this point, and I asked to be checked again, before getting up from the bed.  They discover that I'm progressing and am now at 4-5 centimeters dilated; however, the baby was at -2 station!  Our nurse told us that she had never seen this before, a baby going up to a higher station during active labor, but she was sure the baby was truly at -1 station an hour earlier.  At this point, Katie and I made eye contact, and we both knew what was happening -- God was answering our prayers!  He had somehow allowed the baby to go up a bit to find a better position, in order to better travel down through the birth canal.  I almost couldn't believe what I was hearing, but I praised God that He was helping me and our baby boy!  I was encouraged and optimistic and decided to move, to labor on the birthing ball.  This was one of the most helpful positions for me during the entire labor, on the ball, and I made great progress there.  Also, the nurses were wonderful and very supportive of me laboring naturally.  I couldn't have asked for a better group of nurses, truly, and I was very specific in things I wanted, going into a hospital labor and birth.  They were professional and firm, when I needed them to take initiative and give advice, and they were also nurturing, encouraging, and gentle, when I needed them just be available while my body did its job.  I could say more, but just know we were all impressed at how wonderful they were at Baylor that night, supporting me to have the natural childbirth that I wanted.

The heat is definitely on, by now, and Dave takes out the page of scriptures that I brought, in order to read some to me.  Here are a few of them...

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song I will praise him. 
Psalms 28:7
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge, and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! 
Psalm 91:1-2

I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. 
Psalm 34:4
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. 
Psalms 46:1-3

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. 
Psalms 56:3

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.
Isaiah 26:3-4

I stayed focused and God gave me the strength to labor, holding either Dave or Katie's hand or both, through every contraction, as it came.

By 2:15am, our nurse wanted to monitor our baby's heart rate throughout three contractions.  The nurse allowed me to stay laboring where I was at, and she held the monitor in place, on my belly.  All was indicating that our baby boy was strong, healthy, and doing very well.  Everything was getting more and more painful, but I was managing well through the contractions.

At 2:30am, the nurse checked me and I had progressed to 7 centimeters and -1 station.  I remember feeling nauseous, and Katie immediately took out some peppermint oil for me to inhale its aroma...and, it worked!  I didn't need to vomit, like I did at that same point in my labor with Emmi.  I was a little nervous about transition approaching, but mostly grateful to have moved along so quickly to that point!  Our nurse then suggested that perhaps I try laboring in the garden tub across the hall, for about 20 minutes, to see if that could help me relax.  I was definitely willing to try it.  While the tub was filling, I used the bathroom and had more bloody show.  Katie thought that I had probably made it to 8 centimeters, at that point!  Unfortunately, the tub was not very deep, and it ended up being more awkward and uncomfortable than helpful.  So, after a little while, I asked for help to get out, and we returned to the delivery room.  The time was 3am.

So, the nurse checked my cervix again, and I'd made it to 9 centimeters, with the baby at 0 station!  This was great news!  I'm struggling to not panic during the huge contractions, at this point, and just holding on for dear life!  During this time, I remember experiencing a number of double peak contractions, and I just thought, "oh no! I need a break! oh please!" each time.  But, they were most likely just helping our baby boy to get here more quickly.  My body felt like a bucking bronco...and it felt like that bronco was about to split me right in two!!  Katie just kept encouraging me, "you can do this," even when I was yelling "I can't do it!"  She also reminded me to take a good breath, now and then...and slowly blow it out during the contraction.  It's amazing what you forget to do, when you think you are about to split in two!

Monday, August 15, 2011


Emmi recently discovered Oh, the Places You'll Go!, the Dr. Seuss book that my friend Jeff Scroggins read to me and gave me as a gift, at my SFA college graduation party in Nacogdoches.  

After much protesting of her nap and a little discipline today, Emmi finally crawled up into her bed.  Since I said I would read her a book, she insisted that I read her the "hat" book.  It took me a couple of guesses (and a few frustrating responses from her) to figure out she was talking about that Dr. Seuss book (I assume she thinks the front looks like a hat...she's enamored with hats.)  So, I lay down in bed beside her and began to read her the book.  She was finally calm and listening to every word...  About half way through, I glanced over and her eyes were getting heavy.  Sure enough, a couple pages later, she was asleep.  However, I just kept reading...  And, a few pages later, I found myself tearing up, while reading these words to her:

"I'm afraid that some times
You'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something 
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road, between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on."

I looked over at my beautiful daughter sleeping and had to contain myself from just completely sobbing, thinking of the sobering, inevitable truth, that yes, even she will be alone and scared at some point in her life, and may face something so hard that she "won't want to go on..."  

This realization made me remember how very important it is to train my children up "in the way they should go," by teaching them the truth and life of the God's Word.  What a huge and awesome responsibility, which, by grace, must be coupled with constant prayer.  As I thought back on some of my own very lonely and hard times, I know I would be in a very different, desperate place now, had I not eventually looked to the Author and Finisher of my Faith for His Help and Strength to lean on.  I pray the same for my daughter and for our other children, that they will come to know our Savior and lean on Him through it all.

John 16:33 (NLT) says,  "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
As hard as it is to realize my sweet children will even have many trials and sorrows, I am so very grateful that we can "take heart" and teach them to do the same, because JESUS has "overcome the world," and through Him are we overcomers, as well.

So, the next couple of pages in the book read as follows...

"But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike.
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are..."

I'm not completely sure of Dr. Seuss' frame of reference when writing these things, but I know that we are only overcomers in Christ Jesus and the victory of redemption He conquered on the cross for us.  My prayer is that our children will learn that yes, they will go on and they will face their problems and overcome, as they learn to trust the saving hand of our gentle Shepherd.

So, thank you, Jeff, for that unique and special gift, at the time.  I have used it with many little ones, especially in various public schools, during my years of doing speech therapy, and now I get to read it to my own children.  

I hope everyone will have a chance to read this very special book and message.  More importantly, I hope it points you to the ultimate source of hope and our final destination, Christ Jesus and an eternal Home in Heaven.  Interestingly enough, Oh, The Places You'll Go! was published on January 22, 1990, and was the last book published by Dr. Seuss before his death.  As did this great man, we will all pass on from this earth one day.  May you come to know the only true One who gives life and can determine "Oh, the places you'll go."

Every Blessing,