Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sylvan: His Birth Story

     He squats down, the blue dust pan in hand and smashes it into the pile of dog hair, dirt and crushed cheerios on the kitchen floor. Grinning he pushes the pile around the floor as if saying: “look Mama, I am helping you.” Just a few moments later he is sitting smack dab in the middle of the kitchen table both hands in the pie pan filled with crushed corn chex I am using to bread chicken legs. “Look Mama, I can help you”. We begin our up and down ritual that consists of me setting him on the ground and him climbing back up faster than I think should be possible. I set him back down, hugging him close, not using my hands because they are covered in raw chicken juice.
     It almost seems impossible that Sylvan was born just a little over a year ago. Last year, this fast as lightning, climbing, running forward and gingerly stepping backward, full of hugs and kisses snuggly little guy was a wrapped up little cocoon hiding under my coat from winter snow.

     Sylvan was born around 5:00 am the morning after the Superbowl. The house at which we watched the game was at the top of a steep driveway. After our car started sliding back down the hill, Ivory and I piled out and walked up in the snow while Adam backed the car down to a flat surface and parked. Briefly I allowed myself to wonder what exactly would happen if I went into labor and decided just not to worry. The Superbowl only being a significant factor because watching it involved over indulging in plates of delicious home made Mexican food, chips and salsa and giant dips of guacamole and a super late bed time for Ivory.
     As my due date approached I had grown increasingly anxious. I had decided not to take any refresher child birth courses, I was forced to stop going to my yoga class since every time my head even approached being lower than my stomach I had horrible heart burn and my breathing exercises I had dedicatedly done prior to Ivory's birth... well had not happened regularly since most of my time was consumed by chasing around a two year old. The confidence and trust in my body that I had gained after Ivory's birth felt fragile. So instead I just gave myself the usual pep talk: “I've done this. My body is made to do this.”
     Around 2:30 in the morning I woke up, got out of bed and turned the bathroom light on. I paced into the living room, squatted in front of the furnace and waited for the contractions to just go away, deliberating whether to wake Adam or to call the midwife. Why wake everyone if this was a false call? I woke Adam and he called the midwife. After a few questions to which he had no good answers he handed the phone to me. My side of the conversation went something like this: “My contractions started 10 minutes ago... hold on... okay, I had two since I started talking to you... I am supposed to remind you I have quick labors.. We will see you in 20 minutes.”
     We pulled Ivory out of bed, grabbed the bag I actually had packed this time, food out of the freezer and drove across town. I remembered just how much I hated sitting in the car while in labor. My feet pressing into the floor board, my body willing itself into any position other than sitting. I was so grateful for the completely deserted roads. We had never made it across town so quickly. When we pulled into the parking lot, there was our midwife, shoveling the drive and walk in anticipation of our arrival.
     It wasn't until the midwife checked me that she grudgingly agreed that it looked like we were going to have a baby tonight. The water started filling the tub in the birthing room. Ivory climbed into it eagerly and splashed around while it filled. I eyed it warily not sure if I wanted to get into the water after all. It just looked so wet. Adam donned a pair of swim trunks and I finally decided to get into the tub. The warm water surrounded me and it was wet, but also utterly relaxing. Ivory poured water on my back and when she got tired of it, she climbed out, put on dry clothes and went out to play with a friend who had driven over to watch her.

     I toned my way through contractions, relishing the opportunity to be an active participant in this birth and cursing the Mexican food that was giving me a killer heart burn. Ivory happened so fast, that I never actively pushed, but that is another story for another day. When I felt that I was just procrastinating, and that Adam and I were getting tired (of waiting really) I gritted my teeth, pushed this baby into the world and screamed in close succession. Adam leaned forward and exclaimed: “It's a boy”. And then I had this tiny blue body laying on my chest, turning just a little more red with every breath. Ivory came back into the room and somewhere on the periphery of my vision someone offered her the chance to cut the umbilical cord. She declined, and so Adam cut him free of me.

     A little while later, while food was heating up in the kitchen, we all were cuddled in a giant bed, all of us tired and serenely happy. This was briefly interrupted, when Sylvan finally latched on and tired to nurse. Waves of nausea, rather than pain exactly, washed over me and I quickly relented and took the offered pain medication.

     By the time the birth center opened for it's daily business, our midwife had gone home to take a shower and we were driving back across town in the busy morning traffic. The drive home took forever, but as soon as we arrived home, we bundled up in our winter coats and giddily walked across the neighborhood showing our newest little addition to anyone who was around. And then all four of us crashed on the bed.. well, Adam, Ivory and Sylvan did. I extracted myself of the pile of bodies. I couldn't sleep, although I have no recollection of what it is I did instead.

     Sylvan's first steps, his first word (happy), his first tooth and his first birthday are all already behind us. He has grown into a delightful little personality that is full of affection, humor and perseverance. While I, at times grudgingly, drag myself out of bed to change his diaper and pull him into bed with me in the middle of the night, I also find myself already dreading the morning that his warm little body is not curled into mine and we wake up in our separate beds.


  1. Hi Heidi, So wonderfully written, so special to have those memories written down. Sending all our love, Gillian, Enda and Matthew XXX