Sylvia Lucille Horstman
Sylvia Lucille Horstman
December 3, 2012
My pregnancy had been unexpected even though we had been trying for 2 years. After 2 losses and some genetic issues, we were uncertain as to what our journey was going to be to become parents. Learning you are 8 1/2 weeks pregnant after 4 negative tests and one ultrasound just 3 weeks before is quite a shock... a welcome and happy shock!
The next 31 weeks progressed like textbook - all the standard symptoms and uncomfortable-ness of a normal pregnancy. Yoga, stretching, meditation, our Bradley Method classes at Blooma and healthy eating were paramount in keeping me sane and healthy. I really wanted to love being pregnant (you are supposed to, right?) but really struggled with it. As we approached the end, having our birth plan in place and all arrangements organized made it easier to be patient for our daughter's arrival, no matter how uncomfortable I was.
On Sunday, Dec 2, 2012 my husband Ryan and I were needed at my office to help prepare for a big upcoming event. Even though I couldn't move heavy stuff, I could carry light things and did quiet a bit of walking around the 20,000 sq ft interior design showroom. We went home in the late afternoon and put our feet up. We headed to bed about 11pm like normal. I had been sleeping about 2 hours when I felt a sudden rush of pressure, heard a popping noise and felt warm liquid pouring out of my nether region. My water had not just trickled, it gushed! I woke up Ryan to help me strip the bed and get my phone so I could start timing contractions. Once the bed was remade, we looked at each other and said "Well, this is it!" I called my midwife Rachel (with Morning Star Birth Center) to let her know that things were rolling. She had me head back to bed to try and sleep as much as I could to prepare for the journey ahead.
Heading back to bed was one of the toughest things I've ever done (up until later that day at least). My contractions were already 90 sec apart, lasting around 40 sec consistently, so it was tough to sleep. Around 3 am, I woke up Ryan and asked him to fill the water tub. Not knowing how long it would take to fill and heat up, I wanted to be prepared. By 6 am, I asked my Doula/best friend Alexis to join us. My family tends to have their babies early and fast. So far I wasn't following suit, being 2 days before my due date, but I wanted to be ready for anything.
Being at home while laboring was comforting. I was able to take each contraction as it came in my bathrobe and slippers. I leaned on the kitchen counter, over the kitchen table, over the arm of the sofa, on the ball, propped on pillows in bed, on the toilet... whatever felt right to me. Having Ryan and Alexis as my team was amazing. One held me up and talked me through each contraction while the other applied counterpressure to my lower back. They made me eat and drink to keep up my strength. The reminded me to breath through each contraction. They made me do exercises on the ball, on the floor, leaning over... anything to keep moving things along.
Rachel arrived mid morning to check on my progress and was happy where I was at... 100% effaced and dilated to a 3. She told Ryan that we needed to be prepared that this baby might not be born until the following day and we could be in for a long labor. I felt a little frustrated but I tried to remember that it is just a number and that my body was going to move at the pace it needed to.
By mid day, my progress had slowed way down, inconsistent and around 6 minutes apart. I was so tired from being in labor 12+ hours already. I took a long hot glorious shower, leaning against the cool tile during contractions, then settled into the guest bedroom bed for a power nap propped up face first supported by the largest mound of pillows I have ever seen. My body must have needed it, as I slept for over an hour and managed to do so through every contraction. I vaguely remember Alexis sitting on the floor timing the contractions and rubbing my back each time my breathing changed and she could tell I was having one.
When I woke up, I had a much needed feeling of renewal and a whole new sense of pain in the contractions. They were coming closer together and a bit stronger now. After something to eat and the arrival of Rachel, I was able to get into the tub. I was dilated to a 6!!! It was 6 pm. I was so relieved... this was what I had been waiting for; to have my baby in the water tub in the protective and supportive place I call home. Being in the tub was glorious. The water was comfortably warm, we had soft candlelight and comforting music. My birth team was assembled once Catherine (the second midwife) arrived, including our very curious cat Tom who insisted on rubbing against the midwives and jumped up on a chair to watch the birth. He was so concerned that Mom was okay, you could see him contemplating hopping into the tub with me.
I had been extremely quiet and introspective all day working through the contractions and trying to keep up my strength. I am generally a chatty and happy person, so I had prepared great music, fun movies, etc. to keep us occupied throughout labor. Surprisingly, we didn't use anyone of them. I found the pain so overwhelming, that I focused inward and relied on my meditation and yoga training to get through each contraction and in between. I think I barely said anything to my team once I was in the tub. As each contraction surged, the noises I made got lower and lower in tone. I used the side of the tub as a place to either rest my head or grab on to since I was on all fours in a frog type position. There was a point when I told the midwives I felt like I needed to push and Catherine said to me "Don't push, let your body do it for you." She asked me to blow out in slow short breathes when I felt the urge to push, allowing my breath to help open the area slowly and aid in tearing. It was amazing that Catherine was totally right. My body involuntarily pushed for me... it felt like convulsions almost. The breathing kept me focused and calm. I felt the baby move through each station, letting my body guide her down. As I felt the ring of fire burn, I reached down to feel the squishiness that was the top of her head. I was so close! My husband had climbed into the tub to help coach me and catch the baby. He put his had on her head and was so amazed. He said "Jennifer, you are an amazing woman. You can do this." With each push, her head peeked out more. It was so frustrating when each contraction ended and the pressure subsided, her head went back in! Luckily, it only took 5 pushes and she was suddenly out. She came so quickly that Ryan almost missed her! He caught her from behind me and suddenly the midwives helped guide me back onto my behind, bringing her underneath me and onto my chest. Oh my gosh... the rush of emotions and physical relief... I didn't cry, I barely made a sound... I just kept looking at her thinking to myself... wow... she's here... I did it... I can't believe it. Ryan said that he couldn't believe I was so calm.
The umbilical cord was short, so we didn't stay in the tub long. We transferred to a mound of pillows and towels set up on the bathroom floor just a few feet away where we could cut the cord once it stopped pulsing and delivered the placenta. My husband sat behind me to prop me up and stare at this beautiful little girl in my arms. She proved in her first moments of being that she had a set of lungs and a mind of her own. She was beautiful... a gorgeous color, barely covered in vernix, with long fingers and toes and she even had hair (neither Ryan nor I had hair till we were 2). After making sure my bleeding had stopped, we transferred to the guest bedroom where I was stitched up and able to breastfeed the baby for the first time. As the midwives cleaned up, we ordered in pizza, talked about everything that had just happened and marveled over how quickly it went once I got in the tub. I was still in awe that it had happened, that she was here and that I was a Mommy.
We named our little girl Sylvia Lucille. Sylvia was my paternal grandmother's name and Lucille was Ryan's paternal grandmother's name. Both women passed on years before, so we are proud that she gets to carry on the legacy of two lovely ladies. Carrying this amazing experience in my heart, each time I look at her makes it all feel so special... I stuck to my instincts about the type of birth I wanted, regardless of the hurdles we had to overcome - the birthing center nor home birthing being covered by insurance, people in our lives not supporting a home birth, etc. I knew that I wanted her to come into this world in a place of safety, warmth and love. I knew that I wanted to labor with privacy, comfort and support. We both got what we deserved – a wonderful birth story and a wonderful life together!