The Birth of Sylvia Sue

After having my first baby a few days before my due date, I was very unprepared to go ‘overdue’ this time. (SUCH a bad idea. Next time, I’ll be prepared!) It was only a couple days, but I was SO ready! Monday, November 1st, I cleaned my whole house again and washed my bedroom walls. Everything on my ‘before baby’ to-do list had been long since checked off.

I went to bed Monday night, somewhat resigned to being pregnant at least another week or two. I woke up at 1am, being vaguely aware of having just had a contraction while I was asleep. I got up and went to the bathroom and crawled back into bed. I had another contraction 10 minutes or so later. I fell asleep again and continued this the whole night—waking up with contractions anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour apart, getting up to go to the bathroom every hour. Noah woke up and got up to check the fire, and when he came back to bed I said, “Are you sure Tuesday isn’t a good day to have a baby?” He had thought it’d be nice if the baby were born closer to the weekend. I told him I was having contractions and we both went back to sleep. Contractions were strong enough that I had to consciously relax and breathe through them, but I was able to stay lying down in bed.

Toward morning, they started getting stronger and a little closer together. I would get up on my hands and knees and breathe through them, and they were more like 6-15 minutes apart. Noah got up at 6am to get ready to go to work. We wondered whether he should be going to work. I got up to see what happened with contractions when I moved around. I had several fairly strong contractions, 6-10 minutes apart. Then I would have some that were so mild they barely counted as contractions. When Noah was all ready to leave, I had a really strong contraction and almost second-guessed sending him to work. He was only going to be 20 minutes away and able to leave at a moment’s notice, so I said to go ahead and go, and if he had to turn around in 10 minutes and come back home, so be it.

I e-mailed Patrice to give her a heads-up, and then went back to bed to try to rest more. I promptly fell asleep and slept my soundest sleep for the whole night, from 7-9am, waking up maybe twice with a contraction. I was so glad I’d sent Noah to work!

Amy woke me up at 9am, and so I got up and we ate breakfast and just had a lazy morning. Noah called a couple times to check in. I had irregular contractions all morning. They were decently strong—enough that I’d usually lean on the counter and breathe through them. There’d be a few 10 minutes apart, and then none for half an hour. We ate lunch and I got ready to put Amy down for a nap. I was kind of hesitant about nursing her to sleep because I wasn’t sure I wanted to bring on more/stronger contractions! But I did, and discovered something very well worth knowing. I was nursing Amy and singing her to sleep and felt a contraction coming. I didn’t want to stop singing and have her wake up, so I tried to keep singing through the contraction. To my surprise, I could sing through the whole thing, and in singing and keeping my mouth open I was able to keep my whole body pretty relaxed throughout the contraction.

I napped while Amy did, and when we got up I think contractions were getting a little stronger. Still totally irregular, and a couple times during the afternoon I would go a whole hour with no contractions. We watched a movie and just hung out and took it easy. At one point during the day I wrote down the names of all the people who’d told me in the last week that they’d be praying for me and for my birth. It was really quite a list! What a tremendous blessing.

I discovered it felt really good to sit on my exercise ball during contractions. As contractions got stronger I started singing through them. It helped so much—not only in keeping me relaxed, but I usually sang one verse from a hymn during each contraction, and I could think, “I’m almost done with this verse…almost done with this contraction.”

At 5pm Patrice e-mailed me to ask if I thought she should cancel her evening appointments. I said no way; contractions have been so irregular it’ll probably be a while. I was starting to think it was going to stop altogether and I’d go to bed and wake up sometime during the night with the real deal. They were strong contractions, but there was no pattern whatsoever.

At 6pm, contractions all of the sudden were 5 minutes apart. They were strong enough I wanted someone with me, but I didn’t know if they were going to keep being 5 minutes apart, so I didn’t call Noah yet. He called at 6:30 and said he was on his way home from work, and I said “GOOD. I was just about to call you.” By the time he got home a little before 7p, I knew I was for real in good labor! I was having strong contractions every 5 minutes, sitting on my exercise ball in the kitchen and singing (loudly) through each one. Noah took Amy with him to feed the pigs and whatever else he needed to do outside. He came in and was moseying around and worked on warming up some supper for Amy and himself. (He said later he was kind of thinking he’d just come home and we’d have a lazy evening, playing games or something in between contractions.) I was very focused on labor and told him maybe he should call my mom to come, and my friend Sarah to give her a heads-up. They were both planning to be at this baby’s birth. Then I said maybe he should call Patrice and let her know that if they could cancel the last appointment that night it might be a good thing. Patrice said the people were probably already on their way, and suggested that Barb come over while Patrice finished up appointments. I wasn’t sure I was ready for anyone to come—I didn’t want them at my house for 24 hours before the baby was born this time! But I did think it was moving pretty quickly compared to the last time—when I got up off the ball and moved around contractions were more like 2-3 minutes apart and very strong.

Patrice gave me the go-ahead to get in the tub, so Noah started running water for me. I got up off the ball and walked to the bedroom—that brought on a super strong contraction that I couldn’t stand up through. I ended up on my hands and knees on the bedroom floor, throwing up. (Thankfully I’d been feeling a little nauseated since around 6, so I had my bucket handy!) “Here we go,” I thought, having thrown up continuously throughout my 30 hours of active labor with Amy. But I only threw up one more time, shortly after I got in the tub. Yay!

I got in the tub and it felt SOOOO GOOD. Noah was concerned that it’d make labor slow down, since that’s what it did with Amy. The first couple contractions in the tub seemed a little further apart, but then it picked up again. Amy was frantically trying to get in the tub with me, so Noah called my parents back to see if Dad could come along and get Amy. Noah and Amy worked on finishing supper, while I had hard contractions that I kept singing (roaring) through.

Barb got here around 7:30 and came back and sat with me for a couple contractions. She said, “Those last few were more like 2 minutes apart…are you feeling a lot of pressure with them?” I definitely was feeling a lot of pressure, but I think I was kind of in denial, because I didn’t think I could be that far along already. Barb said she was going to call Patrice to come. This was probably the highlight of labor for me—hearing Barb on the phone telling Patrice to come right away! It was very validating to know that I wasn’t the only one who thought it was moving right along!

At one point I remember hearing the words come out of my mouth, “I can’t do this anymore!” and thought, “Wow, this IS hard. I never said that with Amy!” Barb said, “Yes, you can!” right as I started telling myself, out loud, the same thing I’ve told other women in labor: “Yes, I CAN do this. I AM doing it, right now!!”

I really started feeling pushy in here, and told Noah he’d better call Sarah back and tell her to come! Sometime between 7:45-8pm, Patrice and Mom and Sarah (and her 6-week-old baby, Lillian!) all arrived and Amy left with Grandpa and Aunt Mandy to go drive around for a while.

Patrice checked me and said I was 7 cm. I wasn’t too surprised because I’d felt pushy really early with Amy, too, but I was like, “ONLY 7?” Patrice was quick to reassure me that there was no reason to think I’d be stuck at 7, but I wasn’t worried about that at all. I knew things were progressing well, I just thought as intense as it was that I was surely further along. 15 minutes later I was 8-9cm. Yay! I was blowing through the pushy feelings, trying to wait till I was complete. So hard to not push. Patrice offered to hold my cervix back, and I thought sure, no big deal. She’d held my cervix for ~2 hours while I pushed with Amy, and it wasn’t a big deal (for me!). This time, though, it hurt a LOT! But it still was good to be able to push a little more while she held my cervix back and not just blow. Somewhere in here I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom, but I really didn’t want to get out of the tub. I waited till after a contraction and then jumped out and went to the bathroom really fast and got back into the tub in a hurry so I wouldn’t have a contraction out of the water! They were SO intense! I greeted each contraction with prayer and crying out to God to help me through. I was not able to sing through them anymore!

I reached in and felt the baby’s head a couple times. It felt so cool, all wrinkly, loose skin with the head bones crossed.

I was complete at 8:30 and started for real pushing. My water broke soon afterward. Patrice was putting a lot of counter pressure on my tissues and that felt really good. I think I told her to “push harder!” and she said, “I AM pushing hard!” and I kind of snapped at her, “not hard enough!” Barb suggested I turn onto my side and that felt much better. Noah was pushing on my lower back with every contraction. I was holding one of his hands and one of Mom’s hands at first, but I started doing my own counter pressure when the baby’s head started to crown. Once again very conscious of not wanting to tear, I helped hold baby’s head back so it’d be born slowly. I could feel a lot of the baby’s head it seemed like, and Patrice said there was lots of dark hair! I really don’t like that feeling of the baby’s head swooshing back in between contractions, but Patrice reminded me that it was easier on both of us that way. I could feel the bones in my pelvis spreading apart as the baby’s head moved down—that’s pretty wild. Soon the baby’s head started to stay put between contractions and I knew it’d be soon! I blew and tried not to push to gently ease the baby’s head out. It helped so much to hear people saying, “BLOW, Dorothy!” The only voice I could really focus on was Sarah’s, telling me to blow. It is so hard to not push! What a relief to hear Patrice say “full crown” and know that that was as far as I had to stretch! Then the baby’s head was out! “Thank You LORD!!” I looked down and saw the little head with lots of dark hair, and my mind registered that there wasn’t any blood in the water, so I probably hadn’t torn! (I didn’t!) Right away I had another contraction and pushed for the shoulders. I reached down and lifted our baby up onto me at 9:06pm. She had the cord wrapped tight twice around her neck, and it took a little maneuvering to get her untangled! She was squeaking and gurgling, and we finally got her free and I was able to snuggle her up to me. Sweet, sweet baby.

I looked at the clock and saw that it was only 9pm. I kept saying, “That was it? I can’t believe it’s over already! We can have more kids, Noah!” J

Everyone was saying “him” and “he” till Sarah finally said, “Look and SEE what it is!!” So we looked and saw that we had a little girl! Our Sylvia Sue. Another precious daughter and a sister close in age to Amy. Noah went and got Amy, who was in the living room with my dad and sister, and brought her in to meet our baby girl when she was just 5 minutes old. Such a precious, happy moment. Thank You, God!

Labor was so much more intense this time than with Amy. I never really felt out of control when I was in labor with Amy, but with Sylvia I felt out of control a lot! But I can’t complain since my active labor was 1/10th the length of the first time! I still can’t believe it went so fast, but I’m thankful for that answer to prayer. God is so faithful!