The Birth of Robinson Blake Sylvester: Part I

Kara shares with us the powerful story of her son’s birth.

In October 2015, we found out we were expecting our fourth little miracle. It was a definite surprise to us, coming sooner than we had planned. There was no trying, or medications, or hoping month after month like the last time. It was definitely not our timing at work, but God’s timing, perfect as always. We quickly became excited, especially after seeing how joyful our three daughters were when they heard the news. Our youngest, Sybil, was 16 months at the time, which would make her newly two when she became a big sister. Although that is a fairly good age gap, it was much closer than our others, so new for us. However, I knew if anyone could handle it, it would be my happy, independent, chatterbox Sybbie.

The pregnancy went well. We were planning for our third home birth (Tessa was a hospital birth) with our lovely midwife, Brande, and her assistant, Malory. All three girls were born in the 39th week, so we assumed our fourth would be about the same, or maybe even earlier.

The end of my pregnancy had a few ups and downs. Bryan and I took a trip in my 38th week, and I ended up very sick with dehydration and sun poisoning. This lead to a hospital visit with IV fluids and a UTI – not a very fun way to wrap up a pregnancy. I ended up having pretty awful anxiety during this time. I was feeling so terribly, and was so afraid that I would go into labor feeling so sick. I didn’t think I had the strength for both. I was sick for a good 10 days, nervous all the time that the baby was coming. It didn’t, however. Baby stayed put, and my outlook began to change. I felt better physically, emotionally, and mentally and I knew I was ready to take on this birth when it happened.

By this time, I was nearing my due date of July 4, 2016. We thought I would surely have the baby the weekend before the 4th and we would be cuddling a newborn as fireworks blasted outside. How surprised we were when the day came and subsequently passed. Never had I been pregnant on a due date! And then another day passed, and another, and another… Bryan was wondering if he would ever get to stop going in to work every morning!

I remember a few days after my due date, it was early morning, and there was a big, booming thunderstorm. All the girls were cuddled up in our bed with us, and we all took turns telling the baby that it was safe to come out and that we were all so excited to meet them. That today would be a great day for a birthday. It was such a sweet moment. But still, baby waited.

I went to bed early the night of July 8th. I wanted to have energy and rest just in case baby would come that night. I felt totally normal. I hadn’t really had many practice contractions throughout the entire pregnancy. I was feeling good and positive, but not at all like I would be heading in to labor soon. It was a Friday night, so Bryan was home for the weekend. We hoped he wouldn’t be going back on Monday morning!

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 9 with a nice, strong wave. Even through the fog of sleepiness, I knew within the first second that this was it. There is something about a “real” contraction – it’s not that is more painful or stronger than a practice one… It’s just real and somehow your body and brain knows that. I decided to try and go back to sleep. I was woken up again about 10-15 minutes later with another. I got up to use the bathroom and tried again to go back to bed. The same pattern happened again. Around 4:00 a.m., I woke Bryan to tell him I was getting in the shower and that I was definitely going to have our baby today.

I took my shower, and Bryan got out of bed after that. Around 4:30, I decided to call my friend/doula/birth assistant Malory and let her know what was going on. She was excited and told me to update her in the next hour. At this point, Bryan was timing my waves, and they were right at 3-4 minutes apart. They were getting more intense and I was starting to vocalize through them. Instead of waiting the hour to update Malory, I texted her 10 minutes later and asked her to head our way.

The next 45 minutes was just Bryan and me. It was a really special and memorable time for me. The sun was rising, pink and blue and orange, and we were out on our back deck talking and taking breaks through contractions. It was going to be a hot July day, but the morning was mild and cool. The birds were all singing happily and even a bat swooped down, chirping all around us. It was a truly beautiful start to labor, as I moaned loudly through waves with the sun rising over the cornfield behind us. Our girls were all still in bed, unaware that today was the day they would have a new baby to love.

At some point I lit my candles from my Blessingway, and posted in my group of mommas, asking for them to light their candles as well, and send positive labor thoughts my way.

My photographer, Amanda, was leaving on vacation this morning. I was so sad in the previous days that she was going to possibly miss the birth. I wasn’t sure what time she was leaving, so just decided at the last minute to send her a text and check if she could come for awhile before leaving on her trip. Little did I know, she had decided that if I called after 5:00 a.m., she wouldn’t be able to make it. I texted her at 4:45 asking her if she could come. It was such a crazy coincidence that she made it. I was literally overjoyed when she said she was on the way…Nothing like the last minute!

I also called Brande, my midwife, around 5:00 to let her know today was baby day. She told me to have Malory give her an update once she arrived. I called my mom as well to let her know to head over (and bring donuts!). She was the caregiver for the girls.

Malory arrived at about 5:30 a.m., and I was so happy to see her. We made coffee and joked with Bryan. She came outside with us and supported me through my waves, which were still about 3-4 minutes apart and quickly gaining in intensity. I remember at some point thinking “I hope I have the baby by 10:00 a.m.” and then Bryan jokingly saying “We could still be doing this at 10:00 p.m.!”… He got a death glare for that one. Our neighbor was also outside, and had quite a puzzled look each time I started moaning.

After this, Amanda arrived to take photos and my midwife Brande arrived as well, quietly setting up her equipment. My mom came, and the girls started waking up one by one. First Baby Sybil, who was a bit nervous when she saw all of the people and heard momma making loud sounds. She quickly woke up though, had some breakfast, and joined the fun. Then Tessa woke up, and woke up Nadia as well saying, “Mom’s in labor!”. Nadia didn’t believe her at first, until she came up and saw for herself. They all got dressed in their “Big Sister” shirts and were set to meet their baby. The big girls said since this was their second and third times being at a birth, it was pretty easy for them.

By this time it was around 6:30 a.m. My contractions were pretty intense by now, and I was making really deep, loud, long noises through them. I remember calling for Malory if one started and she wasn’t right next to me. She did an amazing job of reminding me to breathe between moans, and her presence calmed me. Each wave I would close my eyes and go somewhere else. I thought a lot of the ocean. I felt pretty calm and centered at this point. It was almost like I was seeing it all play out in my mind. I could tell myself what was coming next.

I thought I may be close to transition, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up, either. I started to get that far away feeling, shaking my head no, and saying I couldn’t do it. I then let myself believe that yes, transition was coming, and I completely released myself to it. Even though there were people around me, I felt so deep within myself. I felt focused and in my own head during waves. There was my body, doing all the work, knowing how to do it, and doing it well, and there was my brain, always with a bit of doubt and disbelief, but telling me that it was ok, and knowing deep down that I would soon meet my baby.

My contractions were close together now. I could feel my baby’s body moving so far down. I could feel the head coming into my pelvis with each wave. I remembered to stay loose in my throat and jaw and bottom and voice as I walked throughout the house.

During one contraction, I was walking down the hallway, moaning low and long. I turned around, and my sweet two-year-old Sybil was following right behind me, moaning with her eyes closed as well, making everyone giggle. I told myself through the next wave, that I was giving my daughters such a beautiful gift. Time after time they saw normal birth, and the sheer strength and capability of a woman and her body.

Read Part II of Robinson’s birth story here.

Photographs by Amanda E Photography

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