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Ellis Matthew: A Birth Story

Well, I figured I better get to typing out this novella if it ever wanted to see the light of day. We had a bumpy road getting Ellis here, but he’s safe (I’m alive!) and we’re all surviving. In the literal sense because guys, four kids is hard. SO…fair warning to the squeamish or the people not interested in birthing humans, you may want to scroll on past today’s post.

Anyway! Let’s set the scene for this dramatic replay of events. You may or may not have known that I was diagnosed with placenta previa (read more about that here) around 20 weeks with all assurances of “it will move!” “don’t worry/etc/et al”. Spoiler alert, it did not move despite my best hippie intervention methods (arvigo massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care). My OB and high risk doctor discussed standard of care delivery at 37 weeks but agreed to a scheduled c-section at 37 and 6 days since I had no bleeding episodes during pregnancy and no history of early labor. Mind you, 38 weeks still sounded super early to me as all of my kids keep it cozy for 40+ weeks so I had some reservations about delivering so early and lung/breathing immaturity (foreshadowing) but a healthy baby was what we were after so we were scheduled.

We (me) spent the weeks leading up to delivery alternating between cleaning all the things, throwing away all the things, and scheduling all the things since I knew I’d be down and out after surgery. I can tell you that I am a DELIGHT to live with from 36-40 weeks pregnant.

On Ellis’s (unexpected!) birthday I had just dropped off the big kids at Art Camp (Pasadena locals, highly recommend) and Lucy off at the sitter for a kid-free morning out. I took a leisurely stroll around Target to buy nothing I needed and then kicked my feet up while enduring the hottest day of the year thus far (116! ACTUAL DEGREES. I cannot even in that temperature).

I went to fetch the children around lunchtime and we headed home with the plan to hibernate in our den of 72 degree central air for the rest of the day. Upon arriving home, we hustled Lucy to the potty (because who doesn’t want to potty train their 2 year old 1000 weeks pregnant?!). I was on the “big girl” potty, as you do and noticed some spotting. I called for Hudson to bring me my phone to call Matt who immediately informed me he was in Orange County for work (40-90 minutes away depending on traffic for all you non-LA peeps). I told him I was going to drop the kids off at a friend’s house and drive myself to the emergency room while calling my OB. Which in hindsight was absolutely absurd thinking I could load them all up and drive myself in but moms gonna mom.

When I stood up I had a huge gush of blood and tissue all over the floor and immediately commenced the freak out. I hung up with OB answering service (office closes at 12pm on Fridays!) and called 911 while all my children were swarming around the bathroom in various stages of WTF is happening MOM?!

The operator had me lay down and elevate my feet, just in case my placenta was being delivered (would cause immediate loss of oxygen and blood to baby). The general scene was me, lying pantless on the bathroom floor while on speaker phone to 911 trying to convince the kids that Mama was not dying and to please unlock the front door for the firemen. Hudson was the real MVP of the situation, as he listened to everything I said and stayed really calm. It was basically real-life 60-minutes episode “six year old saves mom in emergency”. The girls on the other hand were a hot mess. Lucy was still completely undressed, and wouldn’t let anyone put a diaper on her but me while helpfully screaming “DO YOU NEED A BANDAID MAMA?!”. So she lays down in my pool of blood while I try to button her up and Harper turns the corner in the hallway asking if she’s all clean after a upstairs trip to the bathroom for a number two. Despite the emergency nature of the situation I was just like OF COURSE all of my children would be in various stages of undress when 15 firemen arrive.

Due to our teeny tiny hallway, they could not get the stretcher into our bathroom so I was essentially drug out on a tarp while the kids look on in horror while I’m trying to calmly explain that everything is OK! I’m fine! Daddy will be home soon (he was on speaker so he could followup with the paramedics)! The policemen are here to help!

It was level 10 nightmare.

Obviously, my experience with medical drama is limited to Grey’s Anatomy but I was surprised by the (apparent) lack of urgency on everyone’s part once we got to the hospital. I just assumed I’d immediately be wheeled into the OR, put under and the baby delivered. Instead, they sent me to a triage room where they hooked me up to contraction/baby monitors (I could still feel him kicking so that was reassuring en route to the hospital) and had a doctor examine me and let me know I’d be next on the c-section schedule. It was later explained to us that since my bleeding was under control and me and baby were considered stable, they didn’t need to rush into surgery. There were four scheduled c-sections already on the board plus three emergencies that arrived that day. Babies don’t like the heat!

Matt finally arrived at the hospital after picking up the kids from our house (a policeman stayed with them until he got home), cleaning up our crime scene of a bathroom, and dropping the kids off with our neighbors. I was prepped for surgery and our littlest addition arrived at 4:22 pm at 6 pounds, 3 ounces.



He came out screaming but nurses quickly realized he was having some trouble breathing so he was whisked out to the NICU while they put me back together. Which was apparently quite the task due to the placenta location, a transverse baby and minimizing my blood loss. In recovery the doctor let us know he was happy with the outcome and blood loss (I lost a little over a liter of blood but he decided not to do a blood transfusion). In the following days (and even now) I’ve been super weak and nauseous due to my low hemoglobin.

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Ellis ended up spending 12 days in NICU while his lungs matured. Almost every doctor and nurse tried to tell us this was so unusual for a 37 week baby (it’s technically considered full-term in the medical field). He was initially on a ventilator and feeding tube and gradually weaned off both before being monitored for 4+ days on room air. It was a really rough two weeks for the whole family since I was up pumping around the clock and making two trips a day to the hospital to feed/hold Ellis while the big kids had no idea what was really going on and they couldn’t visit him due to age restrictions.


We finally busted out of there on July 18 and couldn’t have been happier. We are so thankful that he’s happy and healthy. He’s everyone’s favorite and there is always a line at the couch for who gets to hold him first, fetch his binkie, or bring him a toy.





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For a less harrowing birth story: Lucy’s is right here for a walk down memory lane.

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