Caught by Surprise...The Birth of Sylvia Jae

I snuck into the bathroom, took the test, and stood there, shocked. I walked into Penelope's room, showed Jon the test, and he laughed. A good laugh, and said, "Great! Why not!" Baby #5. Ready or not, here she comes. Little did we know, that phrase would be the exact description of her arrival!

Part 2: Caught by Surprise...The Birth of Sylvia Jae
For Part I of Sylvia's story, click here

Warning, this blog post is long! I won't take offense if you don't actually read the whole thing. But, it's filled with details I personally don't want to forget! :)

My due date was August 10th and both of Sylvia's big sisters arrived exactly on their due dates. It's something like only 3% of babies are born on their due dates. That was helpful in the last weeks of pregnancy when it's natural to wonder and hope if you might go early. I never even went there mentally because I had my sites set on August 10th, or later. August 9th we went to the Indiana State Fair, a family favorite! We couldn't skip it. We didn't make it to every part of the fair we usually do. I thought I would die I was so hot and I was having contractions basically the whole time. Nothing super painful, just constant tightening. We got home and my friend Megan came over to watch the Olympic woman's gymnastics team win gold with me. I had noticed some spotting when I got home and was having so many more contractions that evening that I thought surely I would go into labor that night. I laughed out loud at how funny it would be for this girl to come on the 10th. In between commercials for the Olympics we got the house ready, kind of wondering if tonight the birth team would be arriving. The blue light was on outside the house, the birth spa was set up, all necessary items were out, laundry was done, and the house was clean. We were ready.

But...I woke up August 10th still pregnant. I had my 40 week appointment that day and myself, one of the birth assistants and the midwife joked about how many hours were still left in the day to make my due date babies 3 for 3. Everything checked out great at my appointment and we went over what the protocol was for going past my due date. I remember thinking late that night around 10:30pm before I went to bed, that there's no way for an August 10th baby now, even if I went into labor this minute because who has a baby in less than two hours? HA!!!!

Every day and evening after my due date was spent thinking, "Maybe tonight is the night! Maybe today is the day!" Friday the 12th came and I had no motivation to decide what was for dinner, to cook dinner, and not even really to eat dinner. Tell tale sign for me. Feeling blah, no appetite, etc the day before my babies are born happened every time. However, this time, that feeling wasn't quite as strong, so I didn't think much about it. We went out for pizza as a family and just had a good time hanging out together.

Jon had a meeting afterwards that he went to, so I went home, put the kids to bed, and then worked on a hairbow order for a friend. Jon arrived home and the following hilarious conversation took place.

Me: Babe, you should re-read the labor coach section on coaching relaxation through contractions, in case I have this baby tonight.
Jon: Is this going to be a good use of my time?
Me: Oh really? I'm about to die soon and you want to know if it's a good use of your time?
Jon: What is it generally about?
Me: You know, the stuff we read before. About going down my body during a contraction and coaching the relaxation of each muscle group, deliberately.
Jon: (in all seriousness), oh like taps?
Me: Taps? Are you kidding me?
Jon: yeah, I'm serious. Haven't you heard of it? Taps like this (in all seriousness, he begins tapping the top of his head, and his temples, and continues on). It releases pain.
Me: (a bit concerned he actually thought this might be helpful). If you even dare TAP ME during labor, I will literally kill you. I'm dead serious. I will kill you. Do not tap me, anywhere.
Jon: Oh ok. Well, good thing I asked.

He did sit down and read the book. :)
I finished up what I was doing with my hairbow order and was so exhausted I just wanted to go to bed. But, I also wanted to hang out and watch a movie with Jon as it had been a super long busy week of us both running all over the place. But, tiredness won out and I decided to go to bed...way later than I had planned. After all, I had the constant thought of, "What if I have this baby tonight? I need to be rested." Except, Jon decided to tell me not to turn on Penelope's closet light because it sparked and might be an electrical issue and he didn't want to chance it. Great. Nice. We live in a 100 year old schoolhouse. Everything in it is old. If you know my parent's story, you know house fires are an extreme precaution in my family. I'm talking, we had hammers on our windowsills growing up, kind of precaution. So I asked Jon if our smoke alarms worked. He said no. Bad idea, babe. Bad idea. We bantered back and forth about how irresponsible that is and that it has to be fixed. He said it would be... tomorrow. I said, "No way. Tonight." The end result of 20 minutes of bantering was Jon going to the store at almost midnight to get smoke alarm batteries. My dad will be proud when he reads this. :) Non-working smoke alarms, and not enough smoke alarms, are reason for complete disownment in our family. Jon would've been kicked to the curb! I waited to put my ear plugs in and go to sleep until I heard him come back and start messing with the smoke alarms. Phew... now I could get some sleep! Or so I thought....

I woke up at 3:19am. I was in a deep sleep and having a weird dream (which I can't remember now), but in what I thought was my dream, I had a sharp pain and the same weird pop I had with both girls. With Evie it was my water breaking, not with Penelope, and not with Sylvia. I was startled awake but nothing else happened so I wasn't sure if it was a dream or not. I decided to get up and go to the bathroom, like I had been 3-4 times a night to pee. As soon as I got there I started having contractions and they were the different "I'm in labor" kind of contractions. I was relieved to find that so far they were all in front. Trying hard not to get too worked up so I could maybe sleep a little more, I went back to bed. Penelope's labor was 15 hours long so in my mind I wanted to ride out the early stuff as distracted or "unaware" as possible. I was thinking best case scenario, every labor goes faster, so maybe I'll get lucky with labor being half the time of Penelope's.

I have time, was what I was thinking.

I laid down in bed, had a few contractions, and decided to go with the whole Bradley relaxation techniques that I made Jon study the night before. ;) I remember laying there thinking to myself, "This Bradley stuff is a joke. This guy is a quack! I'm starting to feel like I might die. This is not what the book seemed to describe this early on." I got up, wandered around for a bit, getting stuff ready, knowing I was in labor. Around 4am, I woke up Jon, who was on the couch because he fell asleep watching that movie I was going to join in on. He popped up on the couch and I said, "I'm totally in labor." He jumped up and said, "ok!" and started going around the house getting stuff ready. In the meantime, I kept going in and out of the bathroom, contractions coming quicker and stronger, and to my great fear, they shifted to my back. I started to panic because they were getting really painful and the ever so vivid memories of Penelope's labor with the fiery electrical pain all throughout my lower back for 15 hours, came flooding back. Self doubt crowded my mind and I kept thinking "I cannot do this. I just cannot do this again." Tell tale sign baby is coming SOON!

I told Jon to call Dr. Lane. He made the call at 4:07am. She talked to Jon, talked to me, and listened to me have a contraction on the phone. I described to her exactly what I was feeling, etc. She said it sounded like early labor but that we are definitely having a baby today, we just don't know when! She asked if I wanted them to come. They will ALWAYS come if a mom wants them to, regardless of where she is in labor. Still not thinking I was far along, I agreed to just call her back in about 45 minutes to update her, unless things really changed and we would call then.

I hung up the phone, and it took me what felt like an eternity to get back to our bedroom. I was sweating like crazy and found myself staying in this little small spot between our bed and dresser, right in front of the blasting air conditioning vent. Jon opened up the spa and started getting that ready. At first, I had Jon get out one of the self-stick heating pads for your back, thinking I would knock off some time of being still in the water by walking around with the heat on my back. Nope. Not happening. Way too much pain to even think. I decided it was time to get in the spa. As soon as I got in, I expected a decent amount of relief from the back pain with the hot water, but as soon as I lowered into it, I had almost no relief. That's when I knew this was getting crazy. I told Jon to call Dr. Lane back, but he was also applying counter pressure to my back and the pain in my back was one on top of the other, with no break. Jon would start to lighten up on my back while trying to stretch and reach his phone and I would say, "No! You cannot let up. You cannot stop." Poor guy was torn between my agony and his cell phone, just an arms length away. He grabbed his phone and called Dr. Lane at 4:47am and told her to head this way. We still didn't think she was coming now. We were just dealing with the one after another, after another excruciating back contractions and needed our midwife team here.

Our next concern was our kids. Knowing Penelope's labor was long, I was never concerned about the kids being there. Our dear friend Julie offered months ago to take the kids when we went into labor. We assumed we would have time for her to come get them when I went into labor, etc. Kids at a birth is no big deal in the homebirth world. Many families have their kids involved. But this isn't something we wanted to do. Realizing how crazy fast in intensity this got we realized we needed the kids out ASAP. My concern was them walking in our bedroom door, and Jon having to leave me to deal with them. Not a situation I could even fathom at the time because I was in so much pain. Our plan had been Julie, but she lives 25 minutes away, so we called his mom who lives 12 minutes away because the situation was pressing and time was of the essence. His mom had a prior commitment so we went back to our original plan of Julie. Jon called her at 4:59 am and asked her to come get the kids. She jumped in her car right away! But still, we were not thinking we would have this baby before the midwife even got there. Julie was on her way... phew!!!

All of a sudden, labor was even worse (if that was even possible). My thought process at that point was, "As soon as Dr. Lane gets here, we are going to the hospital because I want them to just knock me out. I just want someone to knock me out and have this baby." I could not even fathom doing this for another several hours. Another tell tale sign baby is coming!! But the thought never crossed my mind that she was coming NOW. Like, within minutes.

Jon was standing there in boxers and I said, "You gotta get some shorts on! People will be here soon!" He was fumbling around in his drawers and finally found his swim shorts. All of a sudden, I had an insane urge to push. My water broke and I had no idea it was my water. I panicked thinking I must've pooped everywhere! haha!! Jon goes, "No, you are not pooping!" It was my water breaking and Jon jumped in behind me. Within seconds, I started trying to rip off my swim bottoms as I said to Jon, "She's coming. She's coming out." I only got one leg out of my swim bottoms and her head popped out.

Time stood still.

I simply cannot even describe the next many minutes. Most people asked me, were you scared? Were you terrified? Freaking out? To my own surprise, the answer was no, and actually, it was the exact opposite. A huge calm filled the room. I wasn't panicked. Jon wasn't panicked. It was still and quiet. We were both calm and in control. It was hands down some of the most intense and intimate minutes of our life.

I tried pushing the rest of her out but wasn't feeling any contractions and so nothing was happening when I did. One's natural inclination at this point would be to panic...like, is she stuck? At least mine would be. But shockingly, I didn't. I reached down and felt her face and the first thing I touched were her chubby cheeks. I kept saying to Jon, "Don't pull on her head. Don't pull her." He kept calming saying, "I'm not. My hands are just right here." I calmly told Jon, "I have to wait for another contraction. Just wait a minute." We waited for what felt like an eternity. We talked quietly as we waited. I told him, "She's going to come flying backwards at you, don't pull her up, just pass her back between my legs, and make sure her cord doesn't get pulled tight."

Another contraction came and with one push the rest of her came sliding out. 

She was born right into Daddy's hands.

If someone were to ask me, "what is the one special thing you want most out of this delivery?" Hands down, it would be Daddy delivering her. I didn't mean without the onlooking professional support of our midwife, but that the first person who took hold of her little self was Daddy. It was something I desired, but was hesitant to verbalize too much because I feared the disappointment if it didn't work out that way. A family mentor friend texted us the day before she was born telling us he was praying for us. I relayed some specific prayer requests to him about labor, and at the end said, "And one other thing...my most desired thing for this birth is for Jon to catch her."

Still underwater, he passed her back between my legs where I could pull her up. I will never forget seeing that little face for the first time. She came up out of the water, calm, eyes looking all over. I quietly said to her, "Hi Baby. Breathe, sweet girl." And then she started to cry. As soon as I put her to my chest she stopped crying.

We did it. We brought this baby into the world together. Crazy. Absolutely crazy. I sat there in the water for a few minutes holding her while Jon had gotten out of the spa and was kneeling next to it. He took some pictures and a little video of her first few moments.

She was here.

After all the crazy in 2016 that led up to this moment, she was finally here. I was overwhelmed with love and pure relief. This was exactly what I needed. Exactly what we needed.

Jon picked up his phone and called Dr. Lane back who was already on her way. "Umm...the baby's here." he said into the phone. With excitement and surprise she said, "What?!?!" He put the phone on speaker and she started to talk him through what to do. It doesn't happen often that baby arrives before the midwife, but when it does, the Dad is almost always on the phone when it happens and Dr. Lane coaches them through what to do. By the time I knew for sure she was coming, there was no time for a phone call!

As her head came out, I had virtually no pain, as crazy as that sounds, except crazy intense tightening on the contraction that pushed her body out. When she came out, it was just relief. No pain. Nothing. I felt completely normal. Stark contrast to my last birth.

Dr. Lane does not like delivering the placenta in water because it can mask an issue with bleeding if there is one. She instructed Jon on how to safely get me and the baby, who was still attached, out of the spa. I remember going over this in class and kept telling Jon, "Make sure her cord isn't tight. Keep her cord loose." I held Sylvia close to my chest while Jon helped me out and onto the bed. We still could not believe she was here. It was so fast. So crazy fast. I have never been so relieved!!!

After me and Sylvia were safely on the bed, which was thankfully right next to the spa, our friend Julie who was coming to get the kids walked up the front steps inside and stood, staring straight ahead, listening intently. Our bedroom is directly to the right, but she was looking straight ahead, obviously trying to figure out where the crying was coming from. She said she thought it was Penelope, but yet didn't sound like her. Then, she turned her head towards our room and saw me, Jon, and the baby. She walked in and goes, "WHAT?!?! I am SO happy for you!!" She knew how much I was dreading another 15 hour back labor and clearly, that was not the case this time. She came right over, realized the midwife was on speaker phone and about to give more directions, and jumped right in to help. Amazing. "Hi friend, can you come get our kids? Oh, and by the way, can you also stay and finish helping deliver our baby?" Now that's commitment! :)

Dr. Lane was still 49 minutes away so delivering the placenta was next. I'll spare you all the nice details, but this was more the part that had us nervous rather than her birth. If there were complications, excessive bleeding, etc., Dr. Lane has all the expertise and equipment to deal with it exactly as the hospital would. The phone was on the windowsill on speaker and Jon and Julie worked in tandem doing whatever she asked. Jon was steady and calm, but I could tell he was nervous. Praise the Lord it all went smoothly and without a hitch! There was almost no blood. Not in the spa and not after the placenta. We were so grateful for how well the whole thing went! Dr. Lane stayed on the phone the whole time until she got here. Sylvia was comfy and cozy right on my chest and while waiting for her to arrive, the three of us recounted the insanity that just happened in the last two hours.

While we waited for them to arrive, I called my parents and told them the baby was here!! They were super excited and of course asked her name right away. Which, was also the first time Julie heard it as well. My mom was in the car, driving the 12 hours to come see us within just an hour or so of hearing that she was born. She's amazing.

The kids were thankfully still dead asleep, so we left them there so the midwife team could do what they needed when they arrived. As soon as she got there, Dr. Lane walked in and said to Jon, "Whoa! This is the cleanest birth site I have ever seen! I think we should hire you." He emphatically said, "No way. That was great and all but I prefer not to do that again."

Once the initial check was good, they let Jon cut the cord.
Sylvia and I were both checked out and everything was perfect! She was doing beautifully and I had no tearing or anything. I was even sitting up! It's crazy how different this was from the last one!

Sylvia Jae Oren
7 lbs. 7 oz.
19 1/4 inches long

The kids slept until around 8:30/9:00, which is extremely unusual. Thank you, Lord! Evie was the first one up, which was super sweet considering she has been the MOST excited child ever to welcome this baby sister. She walked in the door, realized I was holding the baby and got the biggest smile on her face. She was acting very quiet and shy and crawled up on the bed next to me. She has not stopped asking to hold her since!

Mekonen came in next and then Penelope. The first thing Mekonen said was, "Hey mom, all those ladies haven't been here for days so that means they probably didn't eat all the muffins." (He has been wanting to eat the muffins I froze in the freezer for when the midwife team was here for a couple weeks now. I told him that if they didn't eat them all, yes, he could have some). True boy, thinking about food all the time. Haha! When I placed Sylvia in his arms, before we told them her name, he said, "Mommy, you cannot name her Penelope or she will cry all the time." HAHA! I said, "Oh buddy, there is only ONE Penelope." ;)

Penelope was the cutest meeting her sister. Very excited and very sweet. Later that evening she was ooing and ahhing over the baby and then Sylvia started to cry and she tried rolling her off of her lap and said, "I don't like her." She also told me to put her back in my belly a couple times, but otherwise, she is all about this baby! Obsessed with holding her and kissing her, and always VERY concerned as to where she is and what she is doing! Baby lover... just like the biggest Sis.

First glance.... :)

It was so nice to be at home, our kids right there meeting her like it was Christmas morning. Birth at home...it's beautiful!

After their kids got their initial fill of baby Sylvia and lots of snuggles and kisses in, our friend Julie got them dressed and out the door for the day. She is SO good to our kids. Loves them deeply and it is so very encouraging to have such support around us. The kids could not wait to go hang out with her. The day, or days, after having a baby when it's me, Jon, and the new baby, have been some of my favorite days in all our 11 years of marriage. There's something remarkably special about just being alone with this new little human, together. Taking care, recounting God's blessings, and relishing in all the joy that has become this family. It was a quiet, rainy day...perfect for snuggling up this newborn. After the kids and the birth team left, and it was only the three of us, I just sat there and cried. I felt so overwhelmed...in a good way. This baby, this birth, is exactly what we needed. What I needed. What our family needed. Besides the gaping hole still left in our family that our son in Ethiopia will soon fill, all is well and beautiful. 

I couldn't wait to see my mom later that evening and the kids were BUSTING with excitement over Grandma's arrival for a whole week. Our dear friends Joe and Julie brought steak dinner, wine, and amazing cheesecake to celebrate Sylvia's arrival and this crazy, growing family. It was fun to just hang out and talk, and Joe even read some poetry about Sylvia's name. :) These two have been monumental in our lives. There aren't even words to describe it, but this little family exists because they allowed God to use them in mighty ways.

My mom arrived just in time for dinner and was bombarded with three very excited kids and one super sweet newborn. It's always SUCH a relief to see your mom walk in the door after you had a baby. So incredibly thankful she made the long trek out here, on a moment's notice. What a blessing!

Jon's parents and Aunt Martha stopped over later in the evening to meet Sylvia. The kids were very excited to show off their new baby sister.

A huge thank you to Dr. Lane and her staff at Believe Midwifery Services for another wonderful maternity care experience and a beautiful homebirth.

So there you have it! The birth of Miss Sylvia Jae.
Stayed tuned for Part 3: Her Name. ;)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A friend linked to your blog. Congratulations!!!! Such an amazing story of providence during home birth. very cool! Pardon me, but I do just have to ask you said your husband's mom had a "prior commitment?" I can't imagine how serious that may be that she couldn't step in during a birth emergency? I was shocked then I realized she must be ill or caring for someone with terminal cancer or illness. I hope your mother in law is okay! I can't imagine having that on your plate too. Again congrats and thanks for the picture of grace.